Shin Hyeong-min is a defensive midfielder representing the K-League in the 2010s. He joined the Pohang Steelers in 2008 and quickly made his presence known. After working for UAE’s Al Jazeera, he played for Jeonbuk Hyundai and served as the backbone of his team. He lifted four trophies (AFC Champions League, FA Cup twice, League Cup) with Pohang and six trophies (five league games, FA Cup) with Jeonbuk. In 2021, he received a love call from coach Hong Myung-bo and transferred to Ulsan Hyundai, playing a weighty role as a veteran along with Lee Chung-yong. In 2022, when Ulsan succeeded in winning the league like Biwon for the first time in 17 years, there was Shin Hyeong-min’s invisible dedication. 온라인카지노

However, in 2023, Shin Hyung-min went from the highest to the lowest in the K League. My two-year contract with Ulsan ended and I said goodbye. Many teams in the first and second divisions showed interest in him, but failed to reach a conclusion on a contract, and failed to find a team in the winter transfer market. He was invincible without a team for six months. The first time he donned the uniform again was in early July, when he joined Cheonan City FC, a new entrant to K League 2. At the time, Cheonan was in last place in K League 2 without achieving its first win in 20 games. He went from being a K League 1 champion team to being a member of the lowest ranked team in K League 2. 

Shin Hyeong-min left behind the most difficult time in his soccer life and resumed his career as a player in Cheonan. However, starting in July, Cheonan became a different team. He earned his first win against Seongnam FC on July 23, and has recorded a good record of 4 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses in the last 7 games. He also had a three-game winning streak by defeating Seoul E-Land, Bucheon FC, and Jeonnam Dragons. Cheonan also succeeded in escaping from the bottom amid favorable reviews that the performance itself was 180 degrees different from before July. 

Although the performances of players recruited in the summer transfer market such as Paulino and Jeong Seok-hwa stand out, it is Shin Hyeong-min’s influence that is most praised both inside and outside the Cheonan team. Cheonan has changed dramatically due to the so-called ‘Shin Hyeong-min effect’. The defense, which had held up well in the first half but then collapsed, and the midfield, which was unable to stop or pressure the opponent, became more organized, and the quick counterattack pattern began to revive. This is thanks to Shin Hyung-min supporting the structure as a defensive midfielder and field commander. 

After playing in K-League 2 for the National Police Agency (Ansan Mugunghwa), he returned to the second division after 7 years. What does time spent on this stage mean to a midfielder born in 1986? I listened to the story of Shin Hyeong-min, who still shows class with a heavy look. 

– Many teams clearly showed interest in Shin Hyung-min in the winter. However, he could not find a team and had to leave the league for six months. What happened?
There was definitely a team that asked to come. However, since he was older and, above all, his salary was not small, it seems that no conclusion was reached. I should have coordinated it well. It seems that the agent stood in my position and tried to do as much as possible, and the club had its own position, so time passed without being able to narrow the differences. Not being able to play many games in Ulsan last year (played in 5 league games) also had an impact. The clubs must have been skeptical about the performance. 

– It must not have been easy to make up for a 6-month gap as a player. 
I had a similar experience in the past, but at that time I wasn’t in a situation where I could come to a conclusion. (*In 2020, a transfer to Beijing Renhe in the Chinese Super League was confirmed, but the problem of entering China was complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, and the team suffered financial difficulties and remained invincible for half a year.) Personal training alone had some limitations. I was worried when I came to Cheonan, but I think I overcame it thanks to coach Nam-yeol Park’s trust and quick hiring. This is something I am very grateful to the director for. During his six months off from playing, he spent as much time as possible with his family. The children (1 boy and 1 girl) loved it because it was their first time like that. My wife must have suffered a lot. I am a person who says that if I like something, I like it. At first, they were worried about me saying I would go to Cheonan, but when I told them I wanted to take on the challenge, they supported me.

– Actually, it is not an easy choice. My career so far has been spectacular enough, and there was no one who would say anything about retiring.
I am at an age where I can put an end to it. (Laughs) I had a strong desire to leave salary and everything else behind and continue my career as a player. When I came and tried it myself, I still found soccer fun. It’s also fun to work with young juniors. Now, I talk about my grades and performance, but at the time, I thought that if I could help my juniors and grow even a little, I was doing my job. 

– Looking at it now, Shin Hyeong-min’s physical condition and performance are still the same. Some say that teams that doubted and did not select last winter are regretting it. 
well… I think the story you hear and the reality are different. (Laughs) It’s definitely different from a long time ago. Above all, the thoughts around you flow differently. My physical condition is good and my will to continue my career as an athlete is strong, but my perspective is different. It was a shame because it was installed. Actually, there is only one solution. I have to continue to show myself on the playground and reduce the gap with those perspectives. 

– It’s been a while since I played on the K League 2 stage. What is the difference from the past? 
In the past, during the time of the National Police Agency, the military and police teams had so many good players that the gap with other teams was wide. Now, the difference in power between each team is small. When I play against other teams, including Busan, I feel that there are subtle differences in performance. Top-ranked teams have the ability to hold on and score when they are about to concede a goal. It seems that teams in the lower tier tend to break down when they need to be stopped more than in the 1st division.

– Many say that Cheonan’s recruitment of Shin Hyeong-min was a godsend in many ways. In particular, experience, leadership, and stability stand out.  

I think Director Park Nam-yeol also called me because he needed that part. Cheonan’s weakest point was a matter of experience. Although there are quite a few players with experience in K-League 1, there was some inexperience in terms of managing the game. After joining in July, I actively requested that from the players. The players also think of it as a good thing and follow along, so it is leading to results. I don’t think leadership is great. It’s just because I’m a long-time veteran that it’s treated that way. What I am thankful for is that the juniors on the team follow me without any complaints. In a situation where the team is unable to win 20 games and is at the bottom, if the players think, ‘How much can that change?’ they give up. However, Cheonan’s players still had the spirit to give it a try. And then we got our first win and our third win in a row. 

– Cheonan is a completely different team in the first and second halves. How do you feel you have changed as a member?
When I first came to the team, the players didn’t even smile. I don’t think he looked happy at the playground, but he’s getting brighter now. The results will be a big turning point, but since there are a lot of young players, they will work together to get into the mood and the rebound will happen quickly. I also gain something from that experience. When I said I was going to Cheonan, people around me were worried, but looking back now, I think it was actually a good opportunity for me. As the team changes, the way people look at me seems to return to how it used to be. 

– Recently, players of similar age are announcing their retirement one by one. What will be the standard for Shin Hyeong-min to end his active career? 
If your thirst for soccer disappears, you should stop. I think that if a player fails to show the skills, passion, and will that everyone recognizes on the field, his value disappears. My job is to show a performance even if it is only for 10 minutes or 5 minutes. That thirst and passion have not disappeared yet. I think I will accept it when I feel like my body can’t do it. Right now, I am still able to compete and work with players. If you listen to what seniors say, the biggest challenge for older players is recovery. If I get a bad feeling from there, I think I’ll quit. 

– It’s nice to see both Cheonan and Shin Hyeong-min helping each other out and creating good challenges.
There may be many people who are disappointed because of the poor performance until mid-season, but the entire team is not giving up and is facing the remaining games with a sense of purpose. If goals and objectives disappear, the player’s motivation to take a further step may weaken. I definitely won’t do it at the lowest level. Although we are a founding team, we want to protect the pride of Cheonan fans and citizens. I will do my best to achieve that goal. As a player, I have continued to be earnest every day. It’s no different now. My intention is to do it earnestly but happily. It’s not strange if I quit at any time, but I’m playing in Cheonan with the mindset to do my best when I can.

– It seems like a big wave of life has come at the end. Wouldn’t it be a good experience and inspiration to become a leader later?
I think that’s all my luck too. It’s not the situation I wanted, but life doesn’t go the way I want. I have a dream of becoming a leader. This is what I ate and learned… I want to prepare step by step. The experience you gain now will definitely be an asset later. 

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